A Busy Day of Propeller Safety News: January 31, 2013

We receive news feeds from many sources. Sometimes our own articles create news, sometimes our viewers send in propeller safety news that just occurred, commercial news feeds often supply news with three dates (yesterday from remote parts of the world, today from the U.S., and tomorrow from developed countries across the international date line).

On Thursday January 31, 2013 we were beginning to parse materials and observations from our visit the previous day (January 30) to the Tulsa boat show into future articles when the news began flowing in from around the globe.

By the end of the day, it was pretty amazing how much propeller safety issues had been in the news around the world, but we suspect most people noticed nothing at all. To capture some of the events of this date we created the log below.

  • 31 January 2013 A coroners inquest on the Isle of Wight (off the southeast coast of England) into the 20 July 2012 death of 14 year old Charlie Hutton who had been washed off his father’s boat by a large wave and caught in its propeller, told an extremely touching story of the death of this young man with a promising future, and of his father’s love for him. The Coroner, Catherine Sumeray, urged the boating industry to promote propeller safety and awareness to prevent similar accidents. The inquest was heavily covered in the British press, and in countries with British ties around the world.
  • 1 February 2013 The Voice of Russia provided the only report of a 32 year old Moscow woman diving with a group at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. She was fatally struck by the prop of a passing boat.
  • 31 January 2013 Minivan News from the Maldives reported a woman from Italy snorkeling near Thaa Atoll, was struck in the head by a boat propeller, and dead on arrival at Veymandoo Regional Hospital. The article goes on to nonchalantly mention that Chinese snorkeling tourists deaths are on the rise.
  • 31 January 2013 BBC News reports a water sports firm (Prince’s Sporting Club in Bedfont, West London) and one of its leaders are going to be going to court as a result of the September 2010 fatal propeller accident to young Mari-Simon Cronje. The pretty, 11 year-old girl had been riding a towed inflatable “bannana” at a friend’s birthday party, fallen, and been struck by the propeller. A director of the firm faces Health and Safety at Work (their version of OSHA) charges. Other reports indicate the company has since gone out of business.
  • 31 January 2013 Standard-Examiner reported on the trial of two men in Utah for failing to come to the aid of Esther Fujimoto who was swimming in open water on Pineview Reservoir in 2011. Another man was driving the vessel that hit her, the two men now on trial were onboard. After the strike, one of these two men took over the controls, then the boat left the scene. She died from her injuries. All three men faced multiple charges, along with drugs and alcohol being involved. In the trial of the boat operator, the Medical Examiner (ME) said “the blood in the water would have looked like a shark attack”, in response to the boaters saying they stopped, visited with her, and did not think she was injured. The ME will not be allowed to make that statement in this trial. The judge says this is the first time he can remember someone objecting to an ME’s report.

While we are used to seeing many accident reports flow in right after major summer holidays, we are certainly not used to seeing this many mentions of propeller safety issues in the news in late January.

This is part of why little progress is made on propeller safety issues. These events keep happening around the world, but each country (and especially the U.S.) looks only at those within their own borders, even though many of the boats, drives, and propellers involved elsewhere were built here, and our own citizens are maimed and killed abroad by propellers.

Propellers are no respecters of geography, but local citizens only react based on how close this accident occurred to the last similar one in the same region, versus looking at patterns of recreational boat propeller accidents over time.

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